Monday, January 11, 2016

As Nets flounder, marking demise of Prokhorov's strategy, coach fired, GM reassigned

With the Brooklyn Nets floundering and with limited opportunity to retool the roster in the short term, owner Mikhail Prokhorov decided to make perhaps the only possible dramatic change: he fired head coach Lionel Hollins, after 1.5 years, and reassigned General Manager Billy King, in his sixth season.

NetsDaily noted:
Multiple sources noted that while Russian ownership was willing to accept some blame and thus forgive King for the failed trades and other moves that left the team bereft of draft picks, they were increasingly upset with his hiring of Hollins. In fact, Hollins was hired so quickly after Jason Kidd's move to Milwaukee that neither Mikhail Prokhorov nor Dmitry Razumov had met Hollins prior his being hired.
Prokhorov will hold a press conference at the Barclays Center at 10 am today, one he can't charm his way through with droll quips and empty boasts. Perhaps he'll also be asked about the arena's poor financial performance.

The shake-up essentially consigns the rest of the season to a dismal holding pattern, with the GM position empty and Assistant Coach Tony Brown as interim head coach--the fifth in five years and eighth in seven years.

(So much for that marketing phrase “We Are: Continuity/Core/Youth/Commitment.")

Perhaps the leading candidate for coach/GM--and surely the biggest name--is Kentucky coach (and former, failed Nets coach) John Calipari, who, as NetsDaily notes (citing Yahoo), reportedly wants a very big deal. Calipari is close to arena CEO Brett Yormark.

The verdict

And it offers a final verdict on Prokhorov's risky--and failed--win-at-any-cost strategy, which The Brooklyn Game summarized as "what’s arguably the most disappointing era in sports history."

NetsDaily's Anthony Puccio summarized the bad deals that traded away assets, notably draft picks:
  • trading for Deron Williams
  • trading for Gerald Wallace
  • trading for Joe Johnson.
  • trading for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry
The Nets, at 10-27, have the third-worst record in the NBA. See graphic above.

They also have the third-lowest average home attendance in the league, though only the sixth-lowest in terms of percentage of seats filled. See graphic below.

Wrote the Washington Post's Tim Bontemps:
To get out of this, Brooklyn is going to need strong, stable leadership, patience and the Nets are going to have to go out and convince both a quality executive and coach to take on one of the most challenging rebuilding jobs in all of professional sports.
In short, the Nets are going to need to do all of the things they’ve failed to up until now.
Who's in charge?

As noted by the New York Post, Yahoo Sports reported members of the Nets front office learned of the moves via Prokhorov’s press release and were unclear Sunday about who’s in charge.

NetsDaily's Net Income (aka Bob Windrem) wrote skeptically, in What's wrong ... still. The Brooklyn Nets "small group" culture:
When one Nets insider was informed of the big changes in the team hierarchy, his response was, "Well, we still don't have any draft picks."
And that, sports fans, is the ultimate truth. The Nets are in a horrible position and Sunday's moves, while unsurprising and no doubt warranted, don't go to the core of what's wrong with the franchise. In fact, what they do is magnify them.
When Mikhail Prokhorov took over the franchise in 2009-10, during what was the team's worst of many bad seasons, all fans, including us, could see was that pile of cash. At the time, Prokhorov was the richest owner in all sports. Coming after seven years of penny-pinching by Bruce Ratner, it was a joy to behold what those riches could do.
Now, with Prokhorov in full control of the team and its arena and the team's future a bleak landscape, there is a downside that we didn't see: One-stockholder companies, no matter how wealthy that stockholder, don't have a lot of controls, don't relish skepticism and often eschew the long-term for the quick hit.

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